Obama Stimulates NBC’s Olympic Haul

President invests $6M on London Games, helping network pass $1 billion mark

NBCUniversal has booked more than $1 billion in national TV and digital advertising for its coverage of the 2012 Olympic Games. And while you can count President Barack Obama as one of the games’ sponsors, none of that windfall appears to have originated in Gov. Mitt Romney’s coffers.

Over the course of the last 30 days, NBCU has brought in an additional $50 million in ad sales revenue, a surge driven by its expanded package of digital inventory and some late political expenditures. And while the decision to live-stream 3,500 hours of competition significantly contributed to NBCU’s ability to reach the $1 billion mark, an incremental investment from President Obama’s campaign also helped move the needle.

Insiders say the Obama campaign has snapped up $6 million in Olympics airtime, a national buy that includes at least one 30-second prime-time spot per night. The first Obama ad will air Friday night (July 27) during NBC’s coverage of the Opening Ceremonies.

The buy includes daytime and afternoon inventory.

While the president has secured time on the biggest media platform of the summer, his opponent thus far has given the Olympics a wide berth. With just 48 hours to go before the 2012 London Games officially get under way, the Romney campaign has yet to make a national buy. (Which is not to say the former Massachusetts governor won’t make a late bid for Olympic glory; in what could be a precursor of a late Romney move, the Republican National Committee this week picked up a run of prime-time spots.)

With an average prime-time unit rate of around $350,000 per :30, the Obama campaign has invested north of $6 million in Olympics inventory. Marketers outside the political ecosphere are paying a steeper rate, as sources estimate the average prime-time spot in the 2012 games is worth as much as $725,000.

The Obama buy also includes as many as two-dozen ads on the NBCU cable properties NBC Sports Network, MSNBC, CNBC, Bravo and Telemundo. Cable time can be had for a mere fraction of the cost of doing business with the broadcast net.

While it remains to be seen if the Romney campaign will make a national buy, one political action committee has already made a big local push for the presumptive GOP candidate. The Super PAC Restore Our Future has bought $7.2 million worth of airtime in 11 states, with an eye toward running pro-Romney spots through Aug. 9.

The Restore Our Future ads will air in the battleground states of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

In response to the buy, a newly formed advocacy group, unPAC, said it has collected 15,000 signatures on an electronic petition calling on NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke to keep the Olympics free of Super PAC ads.

“The games are about national unity and fair competition; special interest negative ads are about division, half-truths and unfair play,” the group’s mission statement reads. “These ads have no place during the Olympics.”

That said, any decision regarding the content of locally airing ads is likely to be made at the affiliate level.

Last month, NBC Sports Group evp of sales and sales marketing Seth Winter said his team was on track to take in as much as $950 million in Olympic ad sales. Four years ago, the Beijing Games landed a grand total of $850 million in sponsor dollars.

Confirmed advertisers include McDonald’s, Visa, Procter & Gamble, AT&T and Coca-Cola. The two official auto sponsors are General Motors and BMW.

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